What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Sermon delivered at Church of Our Saviour, Mill Valley
[Today’s parable] sounds quite different from the end of the line, after all, than it does from the front of the line, but isn’t it interesting that 99 percent of us hear it from front row seats? We are the ones who have gotten the short end of the stick; we are the ones who have been gypped. We are the ones who have gotten up early and worked hard and stayed late and all for what? So that some backward householder can come along and start at the wrong end of the line, treating us just like the ne’er do wells who do not even get dressed until noon!
Quotation from “Beginning at the End” in The Seeds of Heaven: Sermons from the Episcopal Series of the Protestant Radio Hour by Barbara Brown Taylor (Forward Movement Publications, 1990).
Friday, June 20, 2008
Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
Thursday, June 12, 2008
So even the best love in the world needs covenant: covenant that models loyalty, friendship, compassion, spiritual, emotional, and economic support, and all the other life-giving ways of relating that hold this little planet of ours together and mirror God's grace for us. Covenant rooted in stories that transcend gender and sex are easily found in our holiest writ: God, Abraham, and Sarah; Ruth and Naomi; Jonathan and David; Christ and the Church; Paul and those annoyingly fickle Christian communities he helped found. Marriage is meant to model covenants of all kinds. On the other hand, it is but one of many forms of covenant rooted in the water-is-thicker-than-blood theology of baptism. This is the same baptism that prompted Paul to write that our unity in Christ breaks down all distinctions, including this one: "In Christ there is no longer male and female. . ."
Saturday, May 17, 2008
- Two adults "marry" one another when drawn together by God -- nobody marries them. In this way, marriage is a human response to the mystery of a divine gift: mutual desire and self-offering for companionship, stability, and intimacy. Sexuality in its broadest sense (not narrowly defined as intercourse), is a manifestation of this desire, and it therefore has a strongly sacramental character when expressed in the context of prayerful, loving covenant.
- The state, not the Church, confers the legal rights, protections, and responsibilities that support the resulting (expanded) household. In this way, the state defines the public/political dimension of marriage in regulating the household as an economic and legal entity.
- Marriage as an institution is largely human in origin. Adam and Eve, contrary to the myth we all seem to have inherited, were not formally married! I note, too, the important witness of numerous couples who have lived for years in healthy covenant without engaging in a formal public union. Moreover, Jesus seems to stress this point about marriage as human institution in Mark 12:25 and Matthew 22:30. History and tradition tell us that marriage has evolved greatly over time, and it was a late comer to the sacramental ministry and mission of the Church. I find that its record in the hands of the Church is, at best, ambivalent. At worst, it has had a corrupting influence and has been abused in numerous ways as a tool of control. For this reason, the Church remains in a state of recovery -- I hope with a strong dose of grace -- when it comes to our theologies of marriage.
- As far as Christianity is concerned, baptism trumps gender. Indeed, the vocation of new life in the Risen Christ explodes the notion that biological and social distinctions are essential to God's work and blessing. Every human institution is subjugated to the saving grace of Christ and re-ordered as a result, not least of which is marriage. Paul in his letter to the Galatians makes perhaps the most succinct assertion of this critical theological point: ". . .there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (3:28 -- NRSV)
- With that in mind, I believe the Church ought to publicly affirm Christ's blessing on a couple (gender notwithstanding) and their shared household only after they have discerned with the body of the faithful that their covenant is an extension of their baptismal vocation. This is the function of a Christian marriage liturgy -- nothing more or less than that.
- Christian marriage and Christian solitude are both mysteriously (and somewhat ironically) about building and nurturing Christian community. For this reason, the Church still has a great deal to learn from our monastic traditions about helping Christian adults discern the spiritual and practical dimensions of life-long vows, the very real call of single adulthood, and what it means in both cases to live with others in fruitful communion in Christ.
- A word about procreation and marriage. . . Of course children, biological or adopted, benefit along with other family members, friends, and the broader community from the expanded, stable household generated by a healthy marriage. I love my son dearly, and I have learned that parenthood is just as much a vocation as marriage! However, I strongly disagree with the apparent position of Roman Catholicism and other more conservative theologies which continue to argue that biological procreation (or its potential, however improbable) forms an essential ingredient of a fulfilled marriage. To paraphrase the late Ed Friedman, good parents learn not to place the weight of their individual salvation (or the salvation of their marriage!) on their children. Essentializing procreation seems to me to have its roots in the worldly endeavors of perpetuating inheritance, preserving the institutional church through time, and building and sustaining other human institutions like the nation state. But this priority on procreation fundamentally distorts marriage as a sacramental icon for all human covenants and perpetuates a myth that has profound consequences for the human family and our companion creatures. Indeed, we have interpreted the command to be "fruitful and multiply" too narrowly at our own peril, our children's peril, and, as we are increasingly learning, the planet's peril.
I should add that I feel very fortunate to be in a part of the Church that has done extensive work on this subject already, and to be sharing ministry with friends and colleagues who have been on the forefront of the theological recovery in this area.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Excerpted from a Sermon delivered at Church of Our Saviour, Mill Valley, on the Fifth Sunday of Easter
A mentor and good friend to me once remarked that he wasn’t an environmentalist. Charlie said he didn’t honestly care so much about the whale or the walrus, the polar bear or the eagle. But what he did care about was the human family and our need for clean air and clean water, for adequate food for all people, for health and well-being. Taking care of the whale and the walrus, the polar bear and the eagle, the farmland and the rain forest – all of this was good in as much as it meant good things for us.
I may care more about the natural world than Charlie did or does, but his observation holds true. We have forgotten in our daily habits and consumptive appetites that our common life and work depends on a 100-million-year-old ecosystem that is now under siege. The household of God, built by our Creator through almost unimaginable and miraculous processes spanning vast eons is the sacramental sign of the home with many dwelling places that Christ promises us in the Gospel. And we are placing it in peril on to imperil ourselves.
We have learned in recent months the close connection between policies on bio-fuels, industrialization, soaring oil and agricultural prices, and food riots in Haiti and sub-Saharan Africa. We struggle as a people with the fact that we cannot so easily engineer our way out of the dangers of global warming, increasingly scarce commodities, and famine for some of our sisters and brothers. These are huge problems. They require not only a complete top-to-bottom re-thinking of how we have lived and will live as a people, but a renewed solidarity and commitment from each of us in small, everyday decisions. We are re-learning what the bee and hummingbird both instinctively learn: balance in an inter-dependent cosmos.
Picking up the lid to a dumpster yesterday while we were at the beach on our youth retreat in Inverness, I glimpsed piles of plastic, discarded cardboard, scraps of paper carelessly tossed on the pristine sands of Northern California: an accusatory fingerprint of our forgetful appetites and ways that abuse the Earth.
Some Christians – indeed many through the centuries – argue that all Creation is fallen. That is among our hallowed traditions. But what even our most ardently theologically conservative sisters and brothers are now starting to see is that our abuse of the planet is a symptom of our fall. Our often unconscious and sometimes brazen insistence that the resources of the Earth are endlessly ours to be used as we see fit is eating our home – made by God – is eating it alive, tearing it apart brick by brick. We are dismantling God’s mortal mansion lovingly given for us. We are consuming our own body. And we are caught, so many of us, unknowingly in this system of quiet violence to our roots. Heaven help us if we pull the cornerstone!
I am increasingly alarmed by our ever more sleep-deprived and over-medicated culture, whatever claims it may make, consciously or not, to a Judeo-Christian heritage. I find myself more and more these days listening to Scripture and prayer alongside the wisdom of my gut as I trim back the ingested sugar and processed chemicals; the cleansing of simple water that marks our baptism; the wisdom of the wind in the trees like the breath of the Spirit; the heartbeat of Christ in the motion of the waves; and the sacramental generosity of self-giving love in the life of grain and the vine that we point to and then take in each Sunday. It is as though the Earth itself has taken up Stephen’s loving cry as he, the first Christian martyr, is stoned by the powerful and the heedless, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
For too long, we have rejected the earth as a resource for holiness. The linear-thinking ancestors who wrote our history were carrying the mantle of ancient and medieval empire when they, in the name of God’s kingdom made in their image, threw out pagan worldviews and practices wholesale: those traditions of indigenous peoples that, at their best, remembered that our relationship with the earth itself is inexorably caught up in our relationship with the divine. The people many of our ancestors were taught to hate now speak like ghosts to us across the ages through the creatures at the edge of extinction, the dying reefs, and the starved and parched earth, reminding us that we are accountable to the soil and the land and the spirit of the creature every bit as much as God is accountable to us the abundant love we receive in the harvest, the catch of the day, and the strike of raw materials.
Listen closely to the lives of many of our own neighbors who are not Christian. So many of the spiritual practices they take up quietly damn our Christian tradition – and rightly so – for its rejection of the body’s wisdom, the life that flows from being rooted in the Earth and her patient rhythms and all the dance of the Cosmos. Sometime between the first Christian martyr and the present day, we became the powerful and the heedless, stoning the body of Creation that saw the heavens opened and witnessed to us in ways too many to number.
What we have too often forgotten is that Jesus was born human, crucified, and rose again not only for our sake, but for the sake of all Creation. The heritage of his body, beyond that of the lineage of ancient Israel and King David, was the heritage of genetics and mitochondria, cells and organs, matter and energy woven into beautiful life, the heritage of the whale and the spider, the sky and the ocean, the stars and the galaxies. Stardust made green and verdant is who we are, too, every bit as much as our intelligence and industry. Jesus today promises his followers a mansion, a house with many rooms. The Earth, and indeed the universe, is a sacramental sign, however fallen, of this promised home for us. We break it at our peril and risk the curses of our children. Indeed, it is not too much to say that we risk a hideous damnation for our failure to heed the Gospel, the Word made flesh –flesh like our flesh, bonded to the life of all Creation.
Yet for all the doom and gloom, for a Creation profoundly threatened, there is reason to hope. The long-silenced cries of the Earth, echoing Stephen’s words, have at last gotten the attention of politicians and even the great leaders of industry, whose ambitions and machines gave birth to our economy and lifestyle. Scientists are back in the labs and the fields and the oceans trying to close the loops of our energy cycles. Indigenous practices are strangely winding their ways back into the hands of farmers who have grown tired of chemical fertilizers, poisoned wells, and tainted livestock. Fishermen are gladly putting their marginal livelihoods on the line to restore fish populations. And we as Christians are called to the table to remind us that these actions are not about mere survival, but about the Gospel, the working out of our salvation.
We are just starting to recover in our faith and practice a sense of the sacramental nature of God’s creation, a body that nourishes us and attends to us with the great cycles of warm and cold, rain and sun, the green and blue life whose DNA is at our roots like long lost relatives or the ancient, land-based tribal peoples from which we descended.
We are, in small but significant ways, starting to remember this as Celtic Christians did, invoking the name of the Trinity each time they dug their hands into the soil, tended the tree, or prepared the food. We are learning to remember it each time we think twice before buying the plastic, taking out the recycling, starting a compost, replacing a light-bulb, downsizing our consumption, calculating our carbon footprint, or pondering our gas mileage.
We must remember it as we learn to stand up in Christ’s name for justice not only for the suffering humanity around us but for the often silent cries of our forgotten neighbors – the creatures in all their diversity and plentitude, strangeness, and beauty that God also lovingly made. They share God’s house with us. In many ways, their welfare is our welfare. These are small steps, but cumulatively, they add up to a great deal, and they send a powerful message that we are waking up again to who we were made to be, and who we are called to become.
We must return to the fullness of our deepest traditions, with its cycle of seasons, our rhythms grounded in those of the earth, the sun, and the moon. For, in truth, we are both a cyclic and a linear people. Our brains are hardwired for both. The cyclic to nurture us on the journey and remind us of our heritage, the linear to set us free from bondage and unfold the divine gift of salvation among us.
We must learn again to pattern ourselves in closer harmony with the stuff from which we were made and that which sustains our earthly pilgrimage, to regain hearts for green and growing things and the life of the seas. To care for this fragile house with many rooms, a home that nourishes our earthly pilgrimage and bears the marks of the divine architect, sacramental reflections of the Spirit that breathes life out of nothingness.
And then to recognize we are one in Christ, not only with each other, but with all Creation, called to lead the earth in God’s praise, giving voice to every creature under heaven as we sing not only with our voices but in our bodies and relationships, “Holy, holy, holy!”
And, like Stephen, see the sky open and heaven revealed, to glimpse the divine dwelling places prepared for us and all life from the foundations of Creation.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Even for those of us who have spent all or most of our lives living here in Mill Valley, we only have to look at the changes we see around us to recognize the entire human family remains on the move. The world is changing for good and for ill. People come into our lives and leave them. Many more of us seem to have stopped here as sojourners, visitors.
When I came out to the Bay Area from the Midwest nine years ago this Fall, I was reminded by one disgruntled family friend that I was coming out to be with all the “fruits and nuts.” I was moving to Berkeley, so what can I say? A parishioner in the small-town parish where I was raised up for ordination shrugged his shoulders and said California was going to all slide into the sea, anyway. Well, with the prognostication about Global Warming, maybe we will end up under water anyway – so perhaps Harold was right!
But I came anyway. I couldn’t exactly quantify what called me out here: The draw of a new experience in a diverse environment; a seminary that looked attractive to me; starting afresh in a new place with only my own mettle and a healthy dose of grace. Isn’t that why many people come West, as they have in this country for over a century and a half?
But there was no road map to follow when I got out here. To be sure, a seminary education had a set curriculum, but beyond those three years the future was as opaque and impenetrable to my gaze as a solid brick wall . . . or a completely fogged-in day on the Bay. I didn’t imagine I would meet Hiroko (although the general idea of meeting someone to marry was attractive.) I didn’t imagine working in San Francisco for four years in a small, struggling Asian-American mission. I couldn’t fathom having a son or even what he might look like. But Daniel looks and behaves like Daniel, despite his Dad’s lack of specific vision for the future. . . And I didn’t imagine ending up in Marin County in Mill Valley, with a loving parish like this one. Go figure!
“The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes,” Jesus says to a puzzled Nicodemus today in yet another inscrutable passage from John’s Gospel. I can’t imagine that many of you have a story all that different from mine. Several weeks ago I asked our ten o’clock crowd how many of them imagined they would be living Mill Valley when they grew up. No one out of a hundred raised their hands. Every one of us lives a story that is being written as we live it. We are the “fruits” and “nuts” that grew on far away trees and ended up together in this place for a time, brought here by God into community, being turned inside out regularly by the challenges and joys of a life together shared.
Granted there are times even here in Mill Valley that it seems coming to church itself may be, well, a little bit nutty. And surely, even with our context set aside for a minute, with all that goes on in churches from time to time – Church of Our Saviour being no exception – we wonder why we stick with it.
Even more deeply we ought to feel on occasion why we stick with God in Christ. Jesus in John’s Gospel today speaks almost in riddles about the profound heart of Christian conversion in baptism. It is a mysterious event, buried for many of us in our infancy before we can remember. Even for those of us who can remember our baptisms, we are still left wondering why we did it at times. Why we turned ourselves over to this strange God and the tradition that has grown up in response. The Spirit blew like the wind, where it chose, and we heard the sound of it. . . or our parents and families did. . . but we did not know where it came from or where it was going. Perhaps, more appropriately for the story of Abram and his family: we did not know where it was taking us.
The Christian journey is like that. There are a few road signs, but no map. The path forward is obscured by everything from trees to mountains, cloud, and the fog of our own confusion, and frequently the darkness of our own limited knowledge. All we know much of the time is that we will meet companions along the way. They will walk with us for a time. At other times, we will be swept up by the wind and turned in a completely new direction on our own.
Our faith is built on the same assumptions that Abram’s was. This Abram who pulled up stakes and set off on a wild new adventure into the land of fruits and nuts, where people were strange and different, and the path forward was uncertain. His assumed faith, our faith, the faith of Christ and his disciples across the ages, the faith of a Spirit-filled people as she blows them into uncharted waters. . . it is a faith that assumes God knows what is right for us.
It is not blind allegiance to a set of principles or rules, but an abiding relationship with the One who made us. It will be contentious and difficult at times, much like a marriage. It will be frustrating and strange, like living in a foreign land. But it will remake us . . . for that is what journey is all about.
May you be re-made this Lent, here in the land of the fruits and nuts, where all bets are off, and the joyous task is only to follow where the wind blows, trusting that through it, our Savior is leading us to our true home and re-making us along the way.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I waded into a discussion about this at the HoB/D listserve earlier in the evening, after re-reading John 14 and the verses that come just before it.
In principle, context really matters in this case, even if we sidestep debate about what the "historical Jesus" said or didn't say, and confine ourselves fairly narrowly to the internal integrity of the Fourth Gospel.
I am puzzled that conversations around John 14:6 often do not reflect more often that the verse is a direct response to Thomas's very pressing and somewhat personal question: "How can we know the Way?" The passion of the question seems to stem from an understandably fearful reaction to the foretelling of Peter's denial and Jesus' imminent death and departure.
Taken in the broader context of John, this seems to be Christ speaking lovingly to the Johannine community of believers as they wrestle with doubts and their identity in a time of conflict. And, as so many have written (Bill Countryman's The Mystical Way in the Fourth Gospel is but one wonderful example), it is a statement more broadly given for Christians undergoing conversion, struggling with a journey of deepening faith -- a pilgrimage even -- through the sacramental life, moving into the tensions of a deeply personal and, at the same time, communal relationship with God in Christ.
To therefore use 14:6 in isolation as a litmus test for the orthodoxy of "believers" or an exclusive, narrow theological statement about how God's salvation works (through the Church only?), strikes me as bringing violence into an inspired text -- a passage, chapter 14, that seems intended to be more pastoral than polemical, and to bring comfort to a community of disciples in distress.
After all, it opens with these words, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. . ." (14:1)
At the end of the day, John 14:6 comes alongside words that are fundamentally meant to edify the Christian community, to draw us into the holy mystery of Christ speaking through the gathering of the baptized around the eucharist, and to bring us along further together in the journey of discipleship.
Yes, it says Christ is central for us as Christians in our knowing God. But anything more universalizing or triumphalist than that may be presuming too much, and brings meaning to the text that I'm not sure is intended.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The First Sunday after Epiphany
The Baptism of Our Lord
January 13th, 2008
Audio will be posted soon.
Christmas to me seems like an age ago, how about you? It’s nestled somewhere between grand liturgies and harrowing hikes with a four-year-old through a vast concrete airport. Many of you are back at school, back at work, back to the usual routines with heightened pressures as the economy slows and the market tide rolls back for a time. Budgets have to be worked and re-worked, paperwork is looming as the tax forms arrive, jobs are starting to shift, which adds a whole new level of anxiety. Ballot instructions roll in for Super Tuesday, the airwaves are filled with pundits and politicians hard at it into the wee hours. The great Anglican mess rolls on with fresh news of the first inhibition of a schismatic bishop in a neighboring diocese, and half a world away, our sisters and brothers in uniform still risk their lives trying to bring order in troubled places. Back into the thick of things is the world and Church, the good, the bad, and the ugly. We must be nagged a bit as we are after every Christmas: did it really usher in a renewed righteousness in the world, or are we back where we were in late November, no better off with a Messiah than without one?
Regardless how we might answer that question, we are all agreed that we remain very much in a state of needing grace. We gather here this morning to seek blessing as we often do: a bit more grace, please, for our busy, sometimes harried lives, a breath of spiritual refreshment before plunging back into the work of tomorrow. We expect Christ’s arrival to mean our baptisms have finally “taken,” that we have a shot at breaking through the challenges of this life, a chance to at last relax and finally realize our longstanding hope that peace has finally come to our hearts, the Reign of God has at least arrived for us and our children.
In a way, so does John the Baptist in today’s Gospel.
It’s hard not to expect something a little bit more dramatic between John and Jesus at the River Jordan – something a little bit more dramatic than an esoteric conversation about the necessity of it all. In a curious way, we’ve been trying to get the two of them together for several weeks now. John’s conception is followed by a remarkable encounter between Mary and John’s mother, Elizabeth. John’s father, Zechariah, is struck dumb until the child is born. Jesus is born amidst the declarations of angels and the star and the magi appear. We have also sprung forward on occasion as decades later John appears at the Jordan River and foretells Christ’s coming, the light that the darkness cannot overcome, warning off those who expect an easy redemption with fiery words. We might capture a mental image of him now fully grown, wild-eyed, dressed in his odd animal skins, living on the edge.
In the snippet of the story we hear this morning, the two cousins, the teacher and disciple, must surely have met with something more than a simple discussion over who gets to do what in the River. Might the two have embraced like old friends, perhaps; might they have shed a tear as two spiritual firebrands compare notes about shaking up the towns and villages; perhaps they laugh about innocent childhoods lost to time and the challenges of mature adulthood with all of its risks of failure?
But no, Matthew only offers us the glimpse of a few brief words that remind us of what John sees in Jesus, and Jesus almost demands baptism “to fulfill all righteousness.” For us and for the earliest Christians a profound mystery is in the imperfect prophet baptizing the person we call the Son of God. John means it when he says he rather needs Jesus to baptize him. Like us, John recognizes that he’s the one who needs the grace.
But we are patiently reminded, as the Spirit waits to appear, that Christ’s Gospel reverses what we expect. For this is the Jesus who will wash his disciples’ feet and calm their quarrels with an admonition that the greatest will be the servant of all. This is the Jesus who will say strange things like the least is the greatest in the Kingdom of God, the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
This reversal of expectations is true even for John the Baptist, who has predicted the coming Messiah with a passion that rouses the crowds. His life is built around the hope of Christ’s appearing. But when Jesus emerges and utters his first words as a grown human being in the Gospel of Matthew, he upends the prophet’s world-view. As he will spend his ministry doing. To be clear, if Jesus were to suddenly appear here this morning, he might not seek to teach from the pulpit or administer communion. He might rather sit and listen among you. He might demand that we bless him.
And where would that leave us? Dumbstruck perhaps? Hesitant, for sure.
Fulfilling righteousness has little to do with our power to influence outcomes in our own lives or the lives of others, nor does it really have to do with acquiring some cosmic sense of our own failings. Most importantly, fulfilling righteousness may not have much to do at all with our craving God’s blessing. Instead, it has much more to do with the times when we seek out Christ in our midst and live into our deeper need to bless him in one another. Of setting aside our impatient desires long enough to allow God’s grace to act through us, to allow the action of the Spirit in our imperfect midst.
We cannot, through the vanity of our own efforts, grasp or attain righteousness. We can only bless righteousness, baptize it, fulfill it by serving the One who came to serve wherever we find him. It’s a potent message for us who strive continually to be better, to work to deserve God’s blessing. Like John standing at the River Jordan expecting Christ to winnow, burn the chaff, wash us with a spiritual fire, perfect us, we might be a little bit surprised at a Christ who says, “No, you baptize me. Bless me, you imperfect, beloved children of God. For only in this way will the righteous reign of God begin.”
So that is our task today as we move through our usual routine, renew our baptismal covenant, say the prayers, come forward to table and receive the cup and bread broken. We bless God in Christ and then risk repeating that action over and over again as we leave here to serve: to serve without being perfect or fully capable, or even fully equipped to handle the problems, challenges, and fears the world will bring us.
For our capabilities, busy-ness, resolve, politics, and problem-solving abilities are not at issue in today’s Gospel. Only God’s grace is. For righteousness fulfilled welcomes the Spirit, and perhaps when our clattering desires and impatient endeavors quiet for a moment, perhaps when we learn to bless Christ in our midst rather than anxiously await his blessing, the sky will open, the Spirit will descend, and we, too, will hear the voice of God proclaiming:
“This is my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
- Whatever ontological identity John-David may claim as "bishop," no bishop, and no clergy for that matter, function in the Church without the consent of the body. As other bloggers have noted, we clergy all serve under license. That's how we are held accountable to the greater community that, through our overseers, ordained us and gave us standing in this communion. Even laity are accountable to the communities in which they serve. That is part of what it means to live in community.
- Vows do matter, even when they are to the imperfect. John-David Schofield and a number of clergy who follow him may regard The Episcopal Church as heretical or disagree with its decisions, either recent or longstanding. They may, by moving to the Southern Cone, believe they are protecting their personal piety and perceived faithful integrity from whatever they believe we, as a Body, have done incorrectly. But that's not the issue. The issue is that they made ordination vows to the discipline, doctrine, and worship of this Church. And John-David in particular agreed to honor the boundaries of collegiality in the House of Bishops, and no other. To actively place himself, as bishop, under the jurisdiction of another House and Primate appears to me and many others to violate these vows, and means risking the privileges and responsibilities of ordination in this Church, including stewardship of any property that is held in trust for this Body in San Joaquin.
- Accountability matters, as John-David is only likely to discover more profoundly in the coming months. If he ducks accountability for trying to grab at privileges and property he has already publicly forfeited, he could well force the only option then left to The Episcopal Church: court action.
- In the context of this question, all the rest about human sexuality, Lambeth 1998.I.10, the consecration of the bishop of New Hampshire, and upholding the "faith once delivered to the saints," is simply a smoke-screen for bad behavior in community, a bucket full of red herrings. That is what I mean by stuff and nonsense.
Our Presiding Bishop has been succinct, direct, and collegial in her approach to this situation, a display of true leadership at a time when naked power and property grabs by bishops and archbishops risk making us all a laughingstock. It's a grim time, but there is something refreshing in leadership that draws clear boundaries and takes responsibility for consequences that are measured, in line with the internal integrity of this Church community, and shared in careful discernment.
So now John-David can claim martyrdom or superiority by numbers all he wants. It really doesn't matter.
While there is no place for us to impugn anything about his faith in Christ, the truth is, we are all accountable for our own behavior in community. We make decisions we hope out of a place of inner integrity and then accept the consequences with some humility. That's a simple matter of transparency and vulnerability in right relationship. It seems to me the Gospel has a great deal more to say about this than personal piety, doctrine, righteousness, or beliefs.
And it strikes me that a fundamental misapprehension about this is very much at work near the heart of the present mess.